Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sexually Transmitted Thursdays: Herpes!

I spend my mornings an an intern at Planned Parenthood. This morning, I was answering phones. A woman called in, totally frantic, saying that an ex-boyfriend just texted her and told her he had herpes.


I had a very long conversation with her about the risks and so forth, trying my best to be soothing rather than incompetent. Because of this lady, herpes has been on my mind all day-- let's put her in the spotlight, shall we?

The facts are these:

1: There are two different forms of this lovely virus (warning: herpes in real life is not as cute as the little plush guy), HSV-1 and HSV-2. Though this isn't always the case, HSV-1 is the one you'll usually find around your mouth, whereas HSV-2 shows up more often down yonder.
2: Herpes never goes away. You won't always have symptoms, but it will always be there, lurking, waiting for you to let your guard down so it can strike...
3: Our best friend the condom is definitely helpful in this situation, but not completely. You see, herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact. In this situation, wearing a condom would be like wearing gloves in the winter-- mostly warm, but your wrists might get cold.
4: It is spread through, well, pretty much everything further than a handshake. Even an innocent smooch behind the lilac bush can spread it around. Be very careful! And be sure to wash your hands after you touch any sores with them (i.e., after applying lip balm when you have a cold sore)
5: Usually, some bumps will show up within a month of infection, but not always-- it could be years until any symptoms show up!
6: Symptoms include a recurring rash with clusters of itchy or painful blistery sores. The first outbreak is usually the worst, and can involve itching and burning while you pee, swollen glands in the groin, lethargy, fever, or headache.
7: Rarely, Herpes can cause stillbirth or loss of pregnancy, and if there is an active outbreak during childbirth, a newborn can suffer serious health damage.

Herpes is no fun! If nothing else remember to talk to your doctor about getting tested, make sure your partner is safe, and always wear condoms, even during oral sex.

1 comment:

  1. Also, sorry about the quality of that video.